The 2016 Philippine Elections has proven to be a huge success not just for the country but for the Philippine Commission on Elections (Comelec), which has been reaping accolades from around the world for its role in administering one of the largest, fastest, and most credible elections in Philippine history.
Undeniably, it is also another sterling feat for Smartmatic; one which further reinforces its global market leadership.
A lot of factors underpin this accomplishment, not least of which are the efforts of two Smartmatic Dragon Awardees - Fe Ordoño and Nonoy Escolin.
For Fe, who is Bid Manager for Smartmatic Philippines, key to the success of the project started with the early preparation for the tender. “To be ready for the bids, high-level planning and preparation of potential eligibility requirements with corporate and senior management started almost six months prior to the bid publication,” Fe said.
Her experienced team ensured that documents were in compliance with all the local procurement law in advance, hence, getting a good head start in the process. “It was really a team effort. The whole APAC team, with the support of corporate, was on bidding and contract negotiation mode for almost one and a half year. We were working on an average of one bid per month, so it was a very exciting and stressful period,” she added.
Fe’s leadership proved efficient as Smartmatic won the most important tenders to provide the automation platform for the General Elections. Putting the experience of its previous two Philippine elections in practice, Smartmatic was able to work with the Comelec to guarantee the election ran smoothly.
As a Filipino voter, Fe believes that the 2016 elections were yet another leap forward in terms of transparency and efficiency. “Automation brought cleaner and peaceful elections, better transparency, faster count and election results,” Fe said, adding that Filipinos will expect at least the same bench mark for future elections.
When asked to compare automated elections with the previous manual elections in her country, Fe cited the speedy release of election results as the game-changer. “This change equate to more peaceful election as the “dagdag bawas” syndrome, rampant in previous manual elections, was corrected.”
Having seen the process of technology adoption from up close, Fe believes that other countries wishing to shift to automated elections could definitely take a leaf from the Philippine experience. For her, all efforts should be made to circumvent the usual barriers to election modernization, that is, political will, and budget.
The two-time Dragon Awardee also advices other countries aspiring to implement technology in their elections to collaborate closely with all the major stakeholders to ensure that automation gets the needed push.